Owen A. O’Connor, MD, PH.D.

Dr. O’Connor is a Professor of Medicine and Experimental Therapeutics, and the Director of the Center for Lymphoid Malignancies, and Co-Program Director of the Lymphoid Development and Malignancy Program in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. O’Connor attained his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Toxicology from the New York University School of Medicine.  Following his Ph.D. training he completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in Chemical Engineering.  He then went on to attain his M.D. from The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, followed then by a residency in Internal Medicine at the New York Presbyterian Hospital at Cornell University Medical Center.  Following his residency, he went on to perform his Fellowship in Medical Oncology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), where he was Chief Fellow, and a Fellowship in Clinical Pharmacology at The New York Presbyterian Hospital at Cornell University.  In 2000, Dr. O’Connor was appointed to the faculty at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he was the Head of the Laboratory of Experimental Therapeutics for the Lymphoproliferative Malignancies.

After nearly a decade at MSKCC, Dr. O’Connor assumed a number of leadership positions at prestigious institutions in New York City, including being appointed Chief of the Lymphoma Service, and Co-Director of the Program for Lymphoid Biology and Development at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, and Deputy Cancer Center Director at the New York University Medical Center.  Most recently, Dr. O’Connor has accepted a position to create a new Center devoted to the Lymphoid Malignancies at Columbia University.  In early 2012 he was appointed Professor of Medicine and Experimental Therapeutics, and Director of the newly formed Center for Lymphoid Malignancies at the New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University Medical Center.

Over the past two decades, Dr. O’Connor has become an international authority on the management of Hodgkin Lymphoma and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, as well as the development of novel drugs for the treatment of these diseases.   To date, he has pioneered the development of three new drugs approved for the treatment of lymphoma, and collaborated with national and international colleagues on many others.  Working in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), he was the first to identify the activity of bortezomib (Velcade), a novel class of drugs targeting the proteasome, in patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma, which eventually led to bortezomib becoming the first drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for this disease in 2006. He has since developed new treatment regimens integrating bortezomib into the treatment of lymphoma, and conducted the first in human studies of second generation proteasome inhibitors, like carfilzomib. In collaboration with investigators at MSKCC, he conducted the first in human studies of vorinostat, which became the first histone deacetylase inhibitor ever approved for the treatment of cancer in 2005. Vorinostat (Zolinza) was approved in 2005 for the treatment of patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.